Why Attitude Beats Aptitude When Hiring

Posted: October 25, 2022 | Updated: October 26, 2022

The hiring process can be extremely time-consuming and requires significant resources as well as an ongoing effort from your human resources department. For example, in order to hire for a position you are looking to fill, you must first write an accurate job description, publish it on relevant job sites, screen candidates, interview potential staff, and finally choose the best candidate or candidates. But, while hiring attitude beats aptitude always.

But how do you choose the best candidate for the position? While many businesses value an employee’s hard skill set and experience, experts believe focusing on this isn’t necessarily the greatest approach to evaluating and comparing job candidates.

Instead, businesses generally have more success hiring when they are focused on attitude rather than aptitude. That is, looking for a candidate that embodies your ideal employee and fits in well with your current staff members and corporate culture. If you’re searching for a long-term employee, looking for someone with a positive attitude and a drive to learn and grow will render better results for you and your business.

Attitude vs. Aptitude

Why Attitude Beats Aptitude


According to last year’s statistics, 46% of all new hires fail within 18 months of starting their employment, and 89% of the time, the cause for an employee failing is due to attitude. The most common reasons are lack of drive, inadequate emotional intelligence, temperament behavior, and other personality traits not conducive to working in a hierarchy.

Attitude is commonly a predictor of a new employee’s long-term performance. This is due to the fact that while innate talent can and does change and improve over time, an individual’s personality typically remains constant. Typically an employee’s behavior in their present stage is likely to stay consistent over time and they will continue to behave that way in the future. This is such a crucial factor in the hiring process and can change your company’s culture.

The required flexibility a role requires, an individual’s passion, and leadership qualities are what can make or break a candidate’s ability to perform and live up to the responsibilities of the role you’re hiring for. On the contrary, the ability to fit in with the company’s culture and hold similar values is also critical.


Although attitude is crucial, the relevance of aptitude among job candidates should not be overlooked. 57% of organizations globally are experiencing a shortage of sufficiently skilled entry-level personnel, and are continuing to emphasize the importance of education and industry experience.

Before making a hiring decision based solely on attitude, companies ensure that the candidate has the cognitive ability to learn the necessary skills to accomplish the job. This confirmation can potentially come in the form of a relevant degree or certificate or prior employment in the industry.

Employers must also ensure that new hires are eager to learn the skills necessary to progress in their professional careers; if they lack qualifications in these areas, they may be unwilling to complete the rigorous training that the role may require. Training is costly and time-consuming, which businesses must consider during their recruiting process.

How Attitude Beats Aptitude

The benefit of prioritizing attitude above aptitude when recruiting is that individuals who exert positive attitudes are likely to be very agreeable and eager to learn additional skills. Attitude mirrors personality, which is far more difficult to modify than a personals technical ability. In this day and age, personality attributes such as adaptability, passion, the ability to accept and embrace feedback, as well as accountability are necessary in nearly all work environments. Recruiting is expensive, and the associated costs of a new hire can be as high as 150% of the individual’s yearly compensation for applicants who have experience.

In order to recruit successfully, companies should be focused on the attitudes and personality features of their current employees, particularly top-performing employees. Recruiting managers and human resource departments should be looking for candidates who exhibit similar traits.

The Importance of Hiring For Attitude

Although some professions may require a highly precise set of abilities or expertise, it is equally crucial to prioritize job candidates’ attitudes and personalities for a handful of reasons. It is important to note that attitude beats aptitude when it comes to leadership and decision-making skills. So just aptitude alone is not enough.

Employees’ attitudes affect your company’s culture

positive attitude

Since many job searchers prioritize business culture in today’s job market, employers must prioritize hiring individuals who fit well with the company culture. Employers can accomplish this by carefully assessing employee attitudes during the hiring process and finding the underlying similarities and values that individuals at your company possess. Hiring like-minded individuals will help boost job satisfaction and improve your overall working environment.

Long term success

It is significantly more frequent for a talented and experienced individual to underperform due to a negative attitude. However, individuals who have a positive attitude and are team-oriented approved typically perform and out-last their experienced peers, regardless of experience. This is constant and is demonstrated in various industries, with different occupations and multiple income levels.

Your employees represent your company

When recruiting someone who will have front-facing contact with customers or clients, it is critical to hire with an attitude in mind for these positions. Customer-facing employees are the first impression of your organization, representing you when they speak with consumers or clients. An employee with a terrible attitude can quickly damage your company’s brand reputation and result in negative reviews online which can be detrimental to customer trust and can be difficult to reverse.

Is Attitude Alone Good Enough

Why Attitude Beats Aptitude

The first and most obvious issue with recruiting simply based on attitude is that, while technical abilities may be taught, not everyone has the ability or willingness to learn certain hard skills, particularly at a high level.

Another specific talent that many big and small businesses and recruiters think recent college graduates lack is business acumen. On the surface, this appears to be a highly teachable skill set that seems to be better suited to be developed when an individual reaches the “professional world” rather than during their time at school.

But what if an entry-level candidate lacks business acumen due to a lack of genuine interest in your company or industry? Perhaps they are applying for a job due to family pressure, because their friends are doing so, or out of desperation.

No matter how adaptive or coachable these individuals seem to be, they are unlikely to be good long-term prospects for organizations wanting to develop their talent from within. This scenario of a candidate with hard knowledge but a negative attitude demonstrates the fine line that exists between attitude and aptitude when hiring. This fine is the precise place that a recruiter needs to handle while hiring because attitude beats aptitude and they cannot take any change in hiring the wrong candidate.


While it seems obvious that focusing on a candidate’s attitude should play a significant part in your hiring process, there may be specific circumstances in which abilities and experience should be given the ultimate priority. In a few special cases, you cannot follow the golden line that attitude beats aptitude. You need to weigh this decision on what the role is and how that individual will function within your company.

You also need to be aware of the mentality that dominates your company and seek to fill open positions with individuals who are a good cultural match. It is highly suggested to build an Ideal Employee Profile in order to have on hand a list of qualities and character traits that you want in your ideal candidate in addition to the hard skills that you’re hiring for. To accomplish this, you need to examine your best performers to see what kind of attitudes they have, how they interact with staff on a day to day, and who they are outside of the office. What are the non-technical talents that contribute to their success?

Making hiring decisions strictly based on aptitude can have a detrimental impact on your company. Keep in mind the impact that hiring an employee with the right attitude and the ability to learn can do on your organization. But, we can comfortably conclude that always attitude beats aptitude.

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